Kansas to receive 870,000 rapid-response COVID-19 tests from federal government, Kelly announces

photo by: Screenshot via Facebook Live

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly speaks at a weekly COVID-19 news conference on Monday, October 5, 2020 at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka.

The state of Kansas will receive 870,000 rapid detection tests for COVID-19 from the federal government over the next three months — “significant, much-needed resources” in the state’s efforts to manage the spread of the respiratory virus, Gov. Laura Kelly announced Monday.

The first 57,000 tests from the allotment given to Kansas from a pool of 150 million tests have already arrived, Kelly said. President Donald Trump’s administration contracted with Abbott, a medical device company based in Illinois, to provide the 15-minute tests, which require no lab equipment to administer.

Kelly said the remaining tests would be delivered over the next three months and would go a long way in helping the Kansas Department of Health and Environment administer a new unified testing strategy — the first stage of which she announced last week. The tests, at least initially, will be targeted at COVID-19 hotspots and high-risk areas, such as schools, nursing homes and correctional facilities, she said.

“I want to commend the White House for working with governors to make sure we have the tests we need on hand for our states,” Kelly said in her weekly news conference Monday.

The testing allotment comes at a time when Kansas is still struggling to control the spread of COVID-19. Data from August and September, Kelly said, revealed that those months were the worst of any period since the pandemic began in terms of disease spread and deaths attributed to the virus.

“This is not normal,” Kelly said. “We cannot accept these preventable deaths and become numb to the loss of life.”

Since March, the novel respiratory virus has killed more than 700 Kansans, hospitalized more than 3,000 people in the state and infected more than 62,000. While more testing will give officials a better picture of where outbreaks are springing up, altering the virus’ spread will ultimately require a change in perspective from everyone across the state, Kelly said.

“The only way to change the course of the virus is with the commitment of every Kansan,” she said. “If we all commit to wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding gatherings, we’ll bend the curve. We can make sure our health care workers can care for those who need it, and we could save lives.”

Kansas on Monday confirmed 1,597 new cases of COVID-19 since data was last released Friday, bringing the state’s cumulative case total to 62,708. Officials also confirmed eight more deaths attributed to the virus, which has now killed 706 Kansans since March.

The 1,597 cases were out of a total of 9,989 tests conducted, a positive rate of 16.0%. Health experts have said the spread of disease is concerning when the positive rate increases past 10%.

Kelly didn’t say specifically when the 57,000 Abbott tests the state has already received would be distributed, or where exactly they would be going. She did confirm that the tests are nasal swabs, but said with a laugh they aren’t the “through-your-brain nasal swabs” that were seen frequently in the beginning of the pandemic.


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